Let me start of by saying that if you haven't heard of The Great Wall yet, I wouldn't be totally shocked. The Great Wall is the brainchild of legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers, Flowers of War & Hero) Universal Studios, Le Vision Pictures and Legendary Pictures, who most recently brought us The Dark Knight trilogy and Gareth Edwards' Godzilla. The pairing of Chinese and Western film-making is like nothing Hollywood has seen and it's incredibly the most expensive Chinese movie to date. Check out the first trailer below.
Now after watching the trailer, perhaps you're a little confused just as I was when I watched the first time. Then it hit me that the Great Wall is not just a grandiose film surrounding the creation and purpose of the wall itself. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Director Yimou had this to say about The Great Wall:
At its core, it is a period piece and an action film. The fantasy element does play a major role because of the monsters. But, what makes our film unique is that these are ancient Chinese monsters. Even though it’s a fantasy movie, we filmed it in a very realistic way. We want it to feel like the events actually happened. Other than the monster, all aspects of this film are backed by either scientific or historical research.
So it appears as though there was a lot of thought that went into developing The Great Wall. So much so, that I believe it to be the monster movie we deserve.
The Cast is Stellar
We see in the trailer two major Hollywood names in Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Martian & Elysium) and newcomer Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones, Graceland & Narcos) surrounded by countless Chinese superstars including Andy Lau (House of Flying Daggers), Lu Han (Time Raiders) and Jing Tian (Kong: Skull Island & Police Story: Lockdown). Actors don't always necessarily make a movie great, but when you have a film with actors of such a high caliber, it's hard not to be excited for the potential of a monster movie. The Great Wall also stars Willem Dafoe, Hanyu Zhang and Eddie Peng.
The Story is Unique
The script comes from a collection of incredible storytellers; Tony Gilroy, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro with the original story coming from Max Brooks and Thomas Tull. We don't officially know a whole heck of a lot about the film other than as Zhang Yimou stated it was based on ancient Chinese monsters. The monsters that China is apparently trying to defend against are terrifying and dangerous enough to need an elite army to make a stand for humanity against these great beasts.
It Is Full of Western and Chinese Influences
Outside of Godzilla being a Japanese myth, there have been very few monsters in cinema that partnered cultures in a way as we are going to see in The Great Wall. It's very evident that Legendary and Le Vision Pictures made an astonishing attempt to infuse both the cinematic nuances of Western and Chinese film-making. In the same interview with Director Yimou, he explained that his goal was to create a major Hollywood monster film but infuse it with color and culture of China.
The Great Wall is being toted as a Hollywood blockbuster, and a lot of people may imagine this film being a formulaic action film that follows the concept that the Hero falls from grace and joins a battle that he never thought possible. Then the fighting escalates and our hero decides that he has joined a truly noble cause and fights with all the passion and purpose he can muster. Yet, that isn't what The Great Wall is excitingly different from that formula, and there is so much potential for it to become a massive success.